* Says Youths Are Nigeria’s Most Valuable Assets
*Adds: $500m facility in the works to support technology, creativity
*Starting this year, 20,000 graduates to get paid “work experience fellowships” annually
*In Aso Villa, VP honors 42 winners of “Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award” in Nigeria
Making their marks in different fields like technology, environmental sanitation, agriculture, public health, and education, among others, young Nigerians will continue to be supported by the Federal Government to reach their full potentials, according to Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this in Abuja on Thursday at the 2021 National Gold Award Presentation Ceremony of the Nigerian version of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award for Young People, held at the old State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
The International Award for Young People, Nigeria, an affiliate of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, is a non-formal educational framework that inspires young people to dream big, celebrate their achievements, and make a difference in their world.
Hailing the various ways in which young people contribute to the nation’s wellbeing, the Vice President cited the example of “young Nigerians in our armed forces leaving behind family and friends to serve our country in various internal security operations across the country.
“We have seen how young Nigerians rallied in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic and designed various technology solutions to support the government.
“We have seen Nigerian youths break new ground and earn global acclaim in innovation, technology, sports, the arts, and entertainment.
“Clearly, our young people are our most valuable assets, and the Federal Government believes that they must be encouraged and supported in every way.”
Speaking about interventions aimed at supporting Nigerian youths in different sectors, Prof. Osinbajo said, “to this end we are raising $500 million to support the technology and creativity ecosystem.”
According to him, “the project is led by the African Development Bank which has committed $170million and will also be supported by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Islamic Development Bank and the French Development Agency.”
Besides that, the VP added that “last year, Mr President launched the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme, supported by the UNDP, the European Union and the private sector. It will run for 5 years and will give well paid work experience opportunities to 20,000 young Nigerians every year in select private sector and public sector organisations.
“The idea is that these interns will gain relevant career and life skills that will enable them to transition seamlessly into the professional, business, or public sector, while also earning good pay during the period of the internship.”
Acknowledging the resourcefulness of recipients of the International Award for Young People, the VP noted the exploits of “Musab Muazu who engaged in educating out-of-school ‘almajiri’ children inspiring them to seek education and helping them to read and write.”
Continuing, he said “another recipient Odikpo Emmanuel, having lost one of his friends to suicide, was involved in promoting advocacy against suicide and promoting mental health awareness amongst young people within his community through organizing workshops, symposiums, and various advocacy programmes.
“A recipient, Faithwins Iwuh for her Gold residential project, volunteered at the Renaissance hospital in Enugu State having observed that the hospital was experiencing a shortage of staff. She had to reside in the hospital for a month volunteering as a health worker and support staff to the hospital.”
The Vice President then commended the efforts of the board of the International Award for Young People, Nigeria, particularly in working with stakeholders in public and private sector in ensuring sustainability and to also achieve the right scale for inculcating the values of the award into many Nigerians from a young age.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Award for Young People, Nigeria, Mr Olawale Ekun, praised Prof. Osinbajo’s personal commitment and unwavering support for the advancement of young Nigerians, noting that it will inspire more young people in the future.
He said: “the late Duke of Edinburgh used to hand out the gold awards directly himself in Britain and here we are having the same recognition at the highest level.
“I think that we cannot but continue to be grateful because since this precedence has been set, for the next set of gold awardees, part of the inspiration, the motivation and encouragement that they will have is that they too can have a day like this.”
Some of the Award recipients spoke about their experiences while goodwill messages were delivered virtually by some trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
The high point of the occasion was the collection of award certificates by the 42 recipients of the 2021 International Award for Young People in Nigeria.